Lawmakers Are Looking in All the Wrong Places

Lynn R Webster, MD, The Painful Truth, chronic pain

In the movie titled with their names, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid look back at an unknown posse that’s following them far more doggedly than the two outlaws would desire. At night, watching the lights of the oncoming riders, both men wonder aloud, “Who are those guys?”

The next day, from a bluff where they are again checking up on the progress of their pursuers, Butch says, “They’re beginning to get on my nerves.” And he repeats, “Who are those guys?” Despite their best efforts to throw off pursuit, the two men can’t shake the armed crew that’s hunting them down.

Lawmakers Threatening the Medical Profession

In the same way, lawmakers have been dogging and threatening the medical profession because they blame the continuing opioid crisis on overprescribing. You can read more about that here.

Indeed, opioids are sometimes prescribed inappropriately, but curtailing the supply is just another misguided failure on the war on drugs.

When will lawmakers learn that the opioid crisis is more about demand than it is about supply?

The Need to Treat Pain

Furthermore, opioids are prescribed because there is a need to treat pain. Lawmakers must realize that just curbing supply won’t abate the demand for a rewarding substance, nor will it meet the needs of people who must have their pain controlled in order to get through each day.

Perhaps a More Holistic Approach

A constructive and more thoughtful approach to solving the opioid crisis would be to mandate pain education in medical schools; to mandate that payers cover alternative therapies including abuse deterrent formulations; to increase NIH funding to invest in discovering non addictive and more effective analgesics to opioids; and to make addiction treatment available  to all people regardless of their ability to pay.

This would be a holistic approach that would actually make a difference for people with addictions and not hurt people who need treatment for their pain. This is a solution that’s worthy of lawmakers instead of one that might be chased by cowboys and outlaws.


Purchase my book The Painful Truth: What Chronic Pain Is Really Like and Why It Matters to Each of Us (available on Amazon) or read a free excerpt here.the painful truth, lynn webster, md, chronic pain
Find me here:
Amazon  and Facebook
Copyright 2016, Lynn Webster, MD
photo courtesy of Unsplash


  1. Up Run for Life on February 23, 2016 at 12:10 am

    Thank you. As a chronic pain suffer, I couldn’t imagine if I was cut off my meds that give me the ability to do things I might not can do.

    I go to the doctor and I’m required to get drug screening to make sure I’m not misusing my scripts.

Leave a Comment